Manchester TV

Sunrise Sunset
°C
Today
30/11/2021
°C
Tonight
30/11/2021
°C
Tomorrow
01/12/2021
°C
Saturday
02/12/2021
°C
Sunday
03/12/2021
°C
Monday
04/12/2021
°C

UNVIABLE PLANS: Claims Bolton Council ‘refused to let the public know’

UNVIABLE PLANS: Claims Bolton Council ‘refused to let the public know’

Claims Bolton Council ‘refused to let the public know’ that huge town centre development plans were unviable

Bolton Council has been accused of ‘refusing to let the public know’ about a massive financial viability gap in plans to redevelop the Crompton Place shopping centre.

Earlier this week, the council said development partners on three town centre projects, including Crompton Place, had pulled out of the schemes.

The council cited the COVID-19 pandemic and ‘the decline in demand for office space’ as some of the reasons for the decision of backers to pull out and said they were confident that new developers will be confirmed in the future.

It added that a public statement was made at the “earliest opportunity”.

However, documents seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, presented to Bolton Council by external advisors in June 2020, show the authority was advised there was a huge ‘viability gap’
for the projects prior to the pandemic.

The report states: “Unless the viability gap is bridged there is no incentive for any  private sector developer to bring forward a scheme based on a loss making business plan.

“The numbers reflect the pre-Covid position and we understand that further revisions of the scheme continue to be made, which will no doubt have further cost and rental implications.

“It is however, apparent that any changes would need to be radical if they were to meaningfully address the viability gap we have identified.”

The regeneration plans for Bolton town centre were first launched by the previous Labour Council in 2017 and the Conservatives inherited them when taking over in 2019.

Bolton’s opposition Labour leader Coun Nick Peel has now called on the minority Conservative-run council to ‘come clean with the people of Bolton on the financial viability of the Crompton Place redevelopment’.

The council said they released a public statement to keep residents informed ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

Coun Peel, said “For the council to talk about the events of the last 18 months as being responsible for major investors pulling out of the town, is an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.

“A report was commissioned by the council in June 2020, that specifically reflected a pre-Covid position, that warned the council of a massive financial viability gap on the scheme, meaning that it was unlikely that a private developer would be willing to commit without huge intervention from the council.

“The council have sat on this information for 16 months, refusing to let the public know, despite being continually asked to by myself.

“They must now level with people, and stop withholding information that we all have a right to see.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on the construction sector and this situation is not unique to Bolton.

“Councils across the country will be revising redevelopment plans in light of the economic impact, the decline in demand for office space and other complex factors.

“The option agreements on the three town centre sites remained in place until last month, and commercially confidential discussions were ongoing with the original developers with the aim of work going ahead.

“Unfortunately, this was not possible, and in light of the pending bid for levelling-up funding, we reached the mutual decision to end the agreements.

“At the earliest opportunity we began the procurement process to find a new developer and released a public statement to keep our residents informed.

“We remain confident that new developers will be confirmed in due course and that they will be in a strong position to start work quickly.”

Planning permission for the £250m Crompton town centre proposals was agreed in July 2020.

It was backed by Bolton Regeneration Ltd. – a partnership between Chinese firm Beijing Construction Engineering Group International (BCEGI) and regeneration specialists Midia Group.

The plans included a 110-bedroom hotel, 150 homes, 10,500sqm of office space, and a mixed-use retail, leisure, dining and events area dubbed ‘Bolton Works’ designed for independent shops, food operators and small business start-ups.

 

Words: Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter


Watch Live


Watch the channel on TV

99

Freeview

195

Sky